SJ's Sacred Heart begins food box giveaway

November 22, 2010 9:03:46 PM PST
For every line around the Bay Area you see of those seeking help this holiday, there is an organization worried it will fall short. Thousands of turkeys are being handed out over the next few days, but thousands more are needed to fill a void.

The lines at Sacred Heart Community Service in San Jose will last for three days. That allows for the organized distribution of 4,000 Thanksgiving food boxes. Many people like Jessica Lopez are here for the first time.

"Right now it's just me, my husband and daughter and it's really tough for us with the bills and everything. And this is really helpful because you don't have to worry about not having food," says Lopez.

Food banks say the economic downturn has hit families and seniors especially hard. Thousands of turkeys are still needed to meet the holiday demand.

"I am so grateful for the community to be able to do this for people in need. This year I am in need," says Thanksgiving box recipient Laura Laidler.

"Hearing stories that are saying the economy is turning a corner, but when I see lines around my corner, it doesn't tell the same story," says Sacred Heart Executive Director Poncho Guevara.

Sacred Heart is just one organization, but it is a snapshot of what is happening around the Bay Area. You can see the need and the desire to help. About 1,300 volunteers have signed up to help out at Second Harvest Food Bank's pantry location; some of them like Monica Ochoa are out of work themselves.

"I just thought since I had some free time on my hands I would come to help out," says Ochoa.

"It's very emotional to work here. You're helping people and there are so many people that need help now," says volunteer Jack Kogel.

Second Harvest Food Bank, serving Santa Clara and San Mateo counties, says the need has simply grown faster than donations. They have raised just 10 percent of their holiday fundraising goal. It makes those last minute contributions all the more valuable. Pamela Wood donated 10 turkeys.

"It makes me feel good. Sorry I get emotional. It makes me feel good because I can give to somebody else," says Wood.

It's that time of year when the joy of giving is met, with the gratitude of strangers.